Monday, September 29, 2014

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Ok, I have to ask… did you just read that quote, look at the picture, and think “WHAT!”? Or, did you possibly just accept it for what it said? Now, if you apply critical thinking here, the first thought that pops into your head is that there was no internet during Abraham Lincoln’s lifetime. Correct? Secondly, is that a picture of Abraham Lincoln? No, it’s out first president, George Washington. Learning about critical thinking could save you a little embarrassment down the line.

What is critical thinking?

According to The National Council for Excellence, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Simply put, it is the opposite of seeing, hearing, and accepting information without questioning it.

What does it take to be a critical thinker? (As provided by

1.     Be open-minded and mindful of alternatives.

2.     Desires to be, and is, well-informed.

3.     Judges the credibility of sources.

4.     Identifies reasons, assumptions, and conclusions.

5.     Asks appropriate clarifying questions.

6.     Judges the quality of an argument, including its reasons, assumptions, evidence, and the degree of support for the conclusion.

7.     Can develop and defend a reasonable position regarding a belief or an action, doing justice to challenges.

8.     Formulates plausible hypotheses.

9.     Plans and conducts experiments well.

10.   Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context.

11.   Draws conclusions when warranted – but with caution.

12.   Integrates all of the above aspects of critical thinking.

What can you do to implement critical thinking in your daily life?

1.     STOP! Think about what you read, saw, or heard.

2.     Ask questions for clarification.

3.     Ask yourself, does it make sense? Why or why not? What knowledge do you personally have on the subject?

4.     Be open-minded and open to seeing from another point of view.

5.     Do research.

6.     Don’t take the word of just one person or website. A general rule is getting three opinions and comparing the three.

7.     Ensure you are using reliable resources in your research.

8.     Never rush to a conclusion. Give yourself time to think it through.

“A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself. Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Although critical thinking skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. We can use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve social institutions,” says Hong Kong University’s open courseware on critical thinking.
Do you consider yourself a good critical thinker? Try this quiz to check your skills. You might be surprised at the results. Yes, some of the questions sound silly but the purpose here is to get you thinking outside the box. If you miss a question go back and try to figure out why you missed it. Honing your critical thinking skills is great practice.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Beth G.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

It’s my honor to introduce Beth, a 16 1/2 year veteran of the CCC. She is an Eligibility Specialist serving the counties of Woodford, Anderson, and Washington. Beth started her career teaching kindergarten. She then owned her own childcare center, where she met her husband and worked as director in a couple more centers. She also taught at the college level and says after that experience, “… give me little kids anytime!!” After a while, she decided that she needed a change. She still wanted to work with children and families, but in a different capacity. Along came the position with the CCC and the rest, as they say, is history.  Beth said, “What I love most about my job is the satisfaction that I get from helping families attain a better quality of life. It makes me feel good to be able to remove some of the barriers that our clients meet.” Ultimately, Beth said, “… the greatest job is the one that gives you a feeling of satisfaction; one that you look forward to every day, and offers you an opportunity to help others. One that makes you feel that you are making a difference in people’s lives. I can honestly say, I truly enjoy my job. And, although there are a few days that I would rather be on a beach somewhere, I like coming to work and feeling such a sense of accomplishment.”

When asked about her home life, Beth beamed with pride as she replied, “As of this September, I will be have been married to my husband, Gary, for 33 years. We have three children, all BOYS. Jason, 34, who served in the Army National Guard and was in Iraq for one year, is married to April. They are parents to our first grandchild, Wade, who is almost three years old, and our pride and joy! They are also expecting a baby girl, Sybil, around the middle of November. Brian is 31 and he and his wife, Sheneda, are expecting a little boy, Harrison, around the first of November. Aaron is 23 and busy working and interviewing for positions with area police departments. We are also the proud parents of a 12 year old Schnauzer, Zelda, who is the sweetest dog ever.” She said her greatest achievement thus far is, “My family, no question about it. My husband and I have raised three wonderful young men who are not only kind, but also thoughtful, and caring, and a lot of fun to be around.   As we watch our sons go out into the world as productive members of society forming relationships, becoming husbands, becoming fathers. We can be nothing but proud of the amazing individuals they have become. And, as our little family continues to grow with each addition that comes to us, we are truly blessed.”

Beth is a born and raised Kentuckian. Her father was employed with the University of KY Agriculture Department as a County Agent. Beth, her sister, father, and mother lived in Inez for a few years.  They moved to Prestonsburg, and from there to Ashland where they lived until 1980 when her dad was transferred to the big city of Lexington. It was the biggest place they had ever lived. She was terrified of all the traffic and roads going in all different directions. It took her quite a few years to get used to the hustle and bustle, but Lexington became home. Both of her parents are gone now, but they still like to visit their roots back home, from time to time. Beth says she is who she is because of two things in particular, “Number one, my parents and the morals and beliefs they instilled in me. My parents always supported me in everything. They gave me the opportunity to make my own choices and were always there with advice and support. I knew that I could always depend on them for anything. Number two, my life experiences and those who have shared them with me, whether the experience was good or bad, they played an important part in my becoming the person that I am today.”
Beth told me about one of her most favorite vacations. It’s such a tribute to friendship that I just have to share. She said, “One of my favorite vacations has to be the trip that we took to Oahu, Hawaii, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The thing that made this trip so very special was that our best friends, Doug and Rosemary, went with us as they were also celebrating their 25th anniversary. (Not sure how many people know this but Rosemary, from the billing department, has been my dearest, best friend for 32 years.) We spent a whole week just cruising the island in a Mustang convertible, taking in the beautiful scenery, trying some interesting foods, and returning to our little beach house to enjoy the hot tubs and a few cool and fruity beverages. There is nothing better in the world than having lifelong friends to share the good times and the bad, and believe me; we have shared lots of both!”

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Responsible School-Ager

The Responsible School-Ager

Brandy Southard (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter

I have officially entered into the, “mother of a school-ager” phase of my life!  I never saw myself as such, yet, here I am.  I often think, “How in the world am I going to survive this?”  After a few deep breaths, I realize that I am totally equipped to do this job.  I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education for almost 20 years.  Recently, my husband and I needed to make a change in how our daughter would contribute to the household.  She needed to have more responsibilities around the house, but also needed reinforcements for them.  We came up with a chore chart and reward system that fit our family needs.  It has become quite successful!  She now has a clear expectation of what her responsibilities are and what the rewards will be if she completes the tasks.  This has helped teach her lessons about being accountable for her decisions.  She can choose not to complete a task on a certain day, but she also knows that by choosing that, she is also choosing the consequence that goes along with it.  In the beginning, this was a painful process for everyone in the household; as she became more responsible, it became much easier.  Truthfully, we are all happier now with the clear expectations that have been set!  She has even come so far as to help with things not on her chore chart, because she likes to contribute to the family! 

I imagine many parents and child care providers have the same overwhelming feeling when it comes to helping their children become more responsible.  It is important to say that children need responsibility!  Responsibility is a trait all individuals need, to be successful in life.  By giving children responsibilities, it shows them they can be trusted to make their own decisions as well as to answer for their own behavior.  Assigning responsibilities for your child must be individualized based on where they are developmentally.  You want to set them up for success by defining responsibilities that they are able to accomplish.  If you find that they are becoming frustrated with a task, take a look at how you can simplify it for them.  For example, asking them to keep their bedroom clean may be too broad and become overwhelming for them.  Break it down into smaller tasks for them.  Keep books stored on bookshelf, toys go in the toy box, dirty clothes belong in the hamper, bed must be made, etc.  This can seem much more achievable for them and the end result is: their bedroom will be clean.  As you see them handling the tasks with more ease, you can add a little more to them.  This will help them continue to develop into more responsible children.  It will do wonders with their self-esteem and self-worth.  They will feel like an important member of the family.

We all know that you catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.  The same goes for children!  Be sure to give them specific praise on chores they have accomplished verses giving them negative feedback for what they didn’t do.  By saying, “I really appreciate how you fed the dog his dinner every night this week,” you will encourage them to continue to uphold their responsibilities.  If you have clear guidelines about what happens if they choose not to complete a task, then they will already know the outcome for the choices they make.

Another wonderful benefit to having a responsible school-ager is that they will be more successful in school!  They become more organized and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.  This helps push them to want to learn and achieve more from school.  As I stated earlier, it helps them become successful later in life and want to contribute positively to society.

Another important way to teach children responsibility is to model responsible behavior for them.  Sounds super easy, but it can go such a long way!   If children see that the dishes and laundry are piling up, the lawn has become a jungle, and stacks of papers are everywhere; they see this as acceptable and have no motivation to keep up with their own responsibilities.  It is good to talk with them about a few of your responsibilities and what the consequences might be if you don’t follow through with them.  They need to see that there are even consequences for actions, even as an adult. 

For more information and ideas on helping your school ager with responsibilities, visit the following websites:

Duke TIP Responsibility: Raising Children You Can Depend On

Brandy Southard is a STAR Quality Coordinator, in the Quality Enhancement Initiative in Kentucky.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Cynthia M.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Cynthia, born in New Orleans, made her way to the great state of Kentucky 22 years ago. She has been employed with the CCC for two years as an Eligibility Specialist. She serves the counties of Logan, Todd, and Simpson. I asked what brought Cynthia to the CCC. She replied, “I worked as a Substitute Teacher in Logan County for nine years. Even though my degrees were in Early Child Education and Education, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up. When given the opportunity to apply with the CCC, I put a lot of thought into it. I loved working with the children at school. When I was interviewed, I knew this was going to be THE career for me.”
Cynthia was raised in Louisiana by her mom and Ralph, her stepfather who adopted her. She was recently reunited with her biological father, Clarence. When asked about her home life as a child she said, “I did not live with any of my siblings growing up, but I had an older sister who I lost last October to breast cancer. I have a younger sister, as well, who lives in Louisiana where my birth father lives. I also have an older sister, who is my mom’s biological child that she gave up for adoption, and lives in Chattanooga, TN. We were reunited 16 years ago.”

Her home life today consists of a recently single, Cynthia, and her daughter, Caitlyn Danielle, who is 22 years old. She said of her daughter, “She is the greatest gift I have ever been given!” She said the master of their house is their eight year old cat, Taz, who has been her saving grace for the past four years, since her mom’s passing.
Education has played a huge role in Cynthia’s life. When asked about the schools she attended and the degrees she earned she stated, “I attended kindergarten at Delta Heritage Academy in Buras, LA, and then transferred to Buras High School for 1st-12th grade and was the Rifle Corp Captain. I graduated in 1985. I attended Molar Beauty College in Marrero, LA, and obtained my Cosmetology Degree in 1992. In 2004, I completed my degrees of AAS in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education and AAS in Education at Hopkinsville Community College. In 2008, I completed my degrees of AA, AS, and my State Director’s License in Child Care at Hopkinsville Community College. I also completed my junior year at Murray State University for a BS in Elementary Education. Due to family issues, I decided to delay the completion of my degree. I will be returning to college in the spring at Lipscomb University in Nashville.”

Education lit a powerful passion in her, and has led to many accomplishments. She said, “My passion in life is giving back and serving others. I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. I have been a member since 2002. I have served as Chapter and Regional Officer. I won the 2007 International Orlowski Award.  I have served as the President of the Kentucky Regional Alumni Association for six years and am the current Kentucky Regional Liaison. I serve on the Alumni Advisory Council and Alumni Mentor Committee through Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters located in Jackson, MS. Recently, I Chartered my first Regional Alumni Association in TN and they made me the TN Regional Alumni Association Advisor. Even my vacations are actually times where I served others by attending Phi Theta Kappa conventions, conferences, and workshops, to teach others about programming, assist with events, or just fellowship.  I also serve on the Logan County Relay for Life Committee as the Sponsorship Chair. Having lost several members of my family to cancer, it is important for us to give back and help raise money to help others celebrate more birthdays!”
Obtaining such achievements takes great dedication, focus, will-power, and concentration but that’s not where it leaves off. July 17, 2013, Cynthia hit 319 pounds. It was at that point she made the decision that enough was enough and began to challenge herself to lose weight. Today, she weighs in at a slim 182 pounds. Losing 137 pounds in a years’ time, is definitely something to be proud of. She is a real go getter and inspiration to us all. Congrats on your accomplishments, Cynthia!

Cynthia’s advice on raising children is to love them, teach them, help them, and always encourage them to reach for the stars. Teach them to always have great dedication and focus on the required goals needed to help them see where they have been and where they are going.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Multivitamins: Friend or Foe

Multivitamins: Friend or Foe

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Just when you thought you could not fit another thing on life’s plate… PLOP! Are you getting the recommended daily dose of all the needed vitamins and minerals? Are you eating a healthy well-balanced diet? Have you been caught coming out of McDonald’s drive-thru several times this week? Do you choose not to worry about recommended daily dosage because you supplement with a daily multivitamin? Which is worse… not enough or too much?
Before you make the decision to change your diet, or supplement it with a vitamin, talk to your doctor. Do some research regarding the levels you need for your specific gender and age. Go to WebMD for a listing of the daily required levels. You can also visit WebMD to determine what vitamins and minerals are in the food you consume. Research the products you put into your body at Consumer Search. Read those all-important food labels, which we often take for granted. Be mindful that the added colorings and sugars, often found in multivitamins, could do more harm than good.

Nothing can replace a healthy well-balanced diet. Not only is food better for you than a pill, but the body can also break down the food much better and easier than swallowing a pill. Per Dr. Scott Olson, “Typically, many one-a-day supplements are packed tightly in a capsule form for easy swallowing. Many times these compressed pills are too hard to actually digest in your stomach. X-ray technicians often see these pills far from the stomach, never having dissolved. A pill that is not digested is worthless and simply increases the nutrient content of your toilet water.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should not take multivitamins. It simply means that you need to understand what vitamins and minerals you are not receiving from the food you eat. Once that is determined, you will then need to figure out what supplements you need, and in what amount. Too much of a supplement can be just as dangerous as not enough. Maybe you don’t need every vitamin or mineral found in a multivitamin. You may just need a calcium supplement. Discuss your eating habits and any deficiencies you think you may have with your family doctor.

What about our children? Should we be giving them those cute little gummy bear vitamins? Just like an adult, the major source of vitamins and minerals should come from the food they eat. Baylor College of Medicine published an index chart, which you can use, to calculate your child’s calorie intake and determine the levels of vitamins and minerals that may be lacking. The USDA created a program called to help you plan and prepare a healthy well-balanced meal for your child. If you determine that your child is lacking in nutrients and requires a supplement discuss your concerns with your family physician.
Remember to buy age appropriate vitamins. Children’s vitamins come in liquid and the gummy version. Which would be more appropriate for your child? Most importantly, vitamins look like candy to a child. Explain to your child it is NOT candy, keep them stored out of the reach of a child, and explain they can only take this vitamin when given by an adult. If a child takes more than the prescribed daily allowance you may need to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222 to be automatically redirected to your local poison control center. If the child is experiencing difficulty breathing, severe throat pain, burns on the lips or mouth, convulsions, unconsciousness, or extreme sleepiness call 911 for emergency services.

Your health, and your child’s health, should be a priority and you are the master of your body and the caretaker of your child’s. Take control and discuss any change in diet and the need for supplemental vitamins and minerals with your family physician. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Melissa B.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Introducing, Melissa (Missy); she has worked in the Child Care Assistance Program for three years and serves the counties of Whitley and McCreary, as an Eligibility Specialist. Missy said that she loves working for the CCC and working daily, with a group of people, to help others. It gives her a sense of great pride and accomplishment. She said, “I love knowing the job we do, helps families. Raising kids is NOT an easy job! It’s the most rewarding job, just not the easiest.”

It only takes an instant of looking at her pictures above, to realize that Missy is a fun, outgoing, and happy person. She has a beautiful smile that lights up everything around her. When she asked her mom to describe her using three words her mom replied, “Well, that really depends on which personality they get!” Her boyfriend of four years, Gus, agreed but added that she was always caring, giving, and willing to help others. She proudly said the same characteristics have been said of her eight year old daughter, Lily Grace.

Now, if you were like me, I saw the pictures of the animals and just went, “AWWW!” Missy, Gus, and Lily Grace live on a farm in McCreary County. Missy says that Gus is her soul mate and she is very proud of him. At work he is the Sheriff of McCreary County; at home, he is a rancher. They have six miniature donkeys, two mules, two horses, one miniature horse, three dogs (including a K-9), and one cat. She said, “There is NEVER a dull moment around our house!”

When she is not acting as a ranch hand, Missy loves photography and has plenty of beautiful scenery around her home to capture. You can see some of Missy’s photography in our Spring in Kentucky blog. She also loves to read, whenever she can find a spare moment. Janet Evanovich and James Patterson are a couple of her favorite authors. Horseback riding is also one of her favorite things to do. Living out on a farm affords her such beauty and peace, but she never imagined herself living on a farm. She said, “If someone had told me 10 years ago, that I would be living on a farm, I’d have called them CRAZY! Now? NOW, I can’t imagine it being any different.”

Have you ever been listening to someone talk when suddenly a wave of emotion comes over them? That emotion can be felt in each word. You feel their pain even though its hidden by a smile. Your heart goes out to them. I had that experience with Missy. I just have to say, what a strong woman she is. I asked her to what she attributed her being who she is today and her only hesitation came from pain, still fresh in her heart. On June 15, 2014, Father’s Day, she lost her father in a motorcycle wreck. She said, “My Dad built his own Harley, a 1976 Shovelhead, and he was an avid rider my entire life. So, the irony that this is how he was taken has not been lost. So, I cry… a lot lately. He was, of course, the BEST MAN EVER.” Spoken like a true daddy’s girl. I’m certain he is very proud of her and her brother. She went on to say, “He was not my biological father. He and my mom were together since I was 12. He married my mom, who had two kids. This was a man who had never been married and had no kids of his own. God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us Daddy. So, as much as I cry these days, I truly know how very blessed we have been for the last 30 years to have him in our lives. He was loved by so very many people. We couldn’t have asked for a  better husband to our mom, a better dad for my brother and me, or a better papaw to Lily Grace.” What a beautiful tribute to her parents. A lesson for us all, cherish your parents, because they are only with us for a short time in our span of life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Make Time for Family Time

Make Time for Family Time

Julia @ Kids Matter

          It really seems like, more and more, a two income household isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. As the cost of living increases and pay remains stagnant, more parents find the daunting reality that daycare teachers get to spend more time with their children than they do. As shocking as that sounds, most of you know what I mean. I was a preschool teacher and I can tell you that the bond between teacher and child is very strong. I’ve had parents call me at night because their children couldn’t go to bed without talking to me first. I’ve had children throw tantrums in a restaurant if they happened to see me eating there too, and I was not sitting with them. I have left a date sitting alone while I joined the child for dinner.
           Many parents have confided in me that they feel guilt about how little time they have with their children. When they broke it down, they realized that during the week they spend maybe four hours a day with their children, while the teachers get to spend ten.

           Teachers usually have a reward system in the classroom, like a sticker chart. This is a cute and awesome way to get your little ones to learn responsibility, and create opportunities for family time. Have a Sticker Chart in your home, in a location that everyone visits. Reward your child daily with stickers if they: behave, do chores, get a good report from their teacher, or any other age appropriate rules you agree on when making the chart. By the end of the week, if your child has a sticker every day they are rewarded with a treat.
              Give your child “family responsible choices” as treats, and try to avoid buying a toy as a reward. An example would be to allow them to pick between two treats like, choosing a game the family will play together, or helping to make cookies for family game night. Family responsible choices affect the whole family. This way they learn to understand how choices affect a group, and not just themselves. Allowing them to pick out a toy each week is nice, but it doesn’t really teach them how their efforts throughout the week help the family as a unit. Letting them have a toy as a reward is like your child earning a paycheck. That ‘paycheck’ really only benefits the child and not the whole family.  
           You can’t help your work schedule, so don’t allow that to bring you down and feel guilty. Instead, on weeknights, turn the TV or game systems off, and sit down to dinner together and talk about the day. The weekends should have the same structure as week days with bedtimes, naps, etc., but devote a lot of time to family time. Ride bikes, go to the park, see a movie, make/decorate a cake, feed the ducks, or go to a museum. The possibilities are endless when you make more time for family time.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Brittany L.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

This week I introduce Brittany, from the North region of the CCC. Brittany is an Eligibility Specialist covering the counties of Boyd, Greenup, and Lawrence. She has been with the CCC for a year and a half. What is Brittany’s motivation for coming to work every day? She said, “Everything! I love interacting with the public, as well as being able to help people out and give them a little bit of relief with their finances. We don’t just give out daycare assistance, we give out a little peace of mind by helping them know that they are going to be able to get up and go to work the next morning without having to worry about their children. We provide people with the opportunity to seek a safe environment for their children and alleviate some of the expenses associated with the cost of daycare so they can work to support their family.  I love seeing people smile when I am able to help make their lives a little easier. I also love my work family! Everyone that I have met in the CCC has been very nice and helpful! I love every opportunity that allows us to get together. I am very grateful for my job, and being able to be a part of the CCC family!  I look forward to the future!” To sum up her love of her job she said, “Ultimately, the greatest job to have, is the one that I am fortunate enough to have!”
Sometimes, through tragedy and heartbreak, we realize the smallest miracles in our lives. That can be said of Brittany. I asked about her home life and family. She shared this, “I am married to my high school sweetheart. We have been together since I was 14. We have had four children, Tyson 7, Jaxon 5, and Krymson 2. We also had a son Izaiah, who would have been eight this year; however, he passed away after 23 days due to being a premature baby. He is my beautiful angel baby! If I wasn’t working in CCAP I would love to be working as a NICU nurse just to be able to hold those precious miracles.”

Brittany grew up in Greenup County. She lived with her parents and older sister. She and her best friend, Shanna, loved to go to football games, movies, parties, concerts, and etc. She said, “I am lucky to say, she is still my best friend this very day.”
In her spare time, you can find Brittany attending church every Wednesday and Sunday! She said she is, “… proud to say I am a Christian.” She is also proud to say, “I am a football and baseball mom who hopes to one day say that I am also a cheerleading mom,” she laughed. Her family enjoys sports and she said, “My family and I are Alabama football fans. That’s actually where my daughter’s name came from, it’s just spelled differently, Krymson.”

Her great-grandmother was a woman of God and was always so loving and caring. Brittany said, “She was always teaching us about life and what truly matters,” and because of those traits, Brittany says that her great-grandmother is her hero. What a truly special relationship.
As a mother of three, I had to ask her if she had any parenting advice. She answered, “Enjoy every moment, because we never know what tomorrow holds. Always pay attention to your children as well as listen! Remember that children are always listening to you, even when you don’t think they are, so make sure you’re always setting a good example. Give out lots of hugs and kisses and remember that, “Each day, we make a deposit into the memory banks of our children!”